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divided states

The Americans who think that coronavirus is a hoax

As conspiracy theories spread from social media to the streets, with protests at state capitols across the US, Holly Baxter talks to the people who refuse to believe what they’re told by authorities about Covid-19

Wednesday 20 May 2020 09:05 BST
Demonstrators gather in front of the Colorado State Capitol building to protest coronavirus stay-at-home orders on 19 April
Demonstrators gather in front of the Colorado State Capitol building to protest coronavirus stay-at-home orders on 19 April (AFP/Getty)

Big Momma Carol was her name on Twitter, and her bio read: “Conservative – Trump2020 – Illegals are criminals. The Democrats put them above Americans. Vote wisely. You and your kids’ future is at stake.” Her profile name included three stars; a signal some conservative American tweeters use to show support for three-star general Michael Flynn, the former security adviser to Donald Trump who pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Carol wasn’t usually the sort of person I’d follow, but she had popped up in my Twitter feed a few times as I watched protests against the coronavirus lockdown unfold in Michigan, Idaho, Colorado and Washington. #CoronavirusHoax, #Plandemic and #ChineseVirus were some of her favourite hashtags. “Same people rooting for the #hoax are the same people who claimed Trump-Russia collusion was a thing,” she tweeted one day. A couple of days later, when studies began to show the malaria drug chloroquine wasn’t effective in treating Covid-19, despite Trump’s assurances that it would be, she retweeted: “So are the Dr’s prescribing it purposely killing their patients because the president said something?”

As lockdown continued, Carol’s tweets became more forceful. She retweeted videos of people insulting the mainstream media. She asked a TV host who reported on the disappointing chloroquine trials to admit she was “really working for” China. She called for an ICU nurse who counter-protested against demonstrators in Arizona to be fired. She retweeted a friend claiming a vaccine was being developed by Bill Gates so he could “chip and track” everyone who received it.

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